Sunday, February 16, 2020

My Weekend Review

This past weekend my husband purchased tickets to the Folger Shakespeare Theater in Washington, DC. We could not get good reservations at any of the better restaurants because it was Valentine's Eve and that meant you had to make your reservations months in advance. We instead ate at a cozy pub called the Hawk and Dove. It bills its theme as an intelligent place to argue politics since they are fairly close to the Capital/Congress. There were icons of selected Presidents on one wall, but not any of the recent ones. I ordered rib eye (since we no longer cook red meat at home) and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I also ordered a nice Bourbon cocktail as that is the only thing I drink in a "cozy pub." Hubby had a shrimp pasta scampi meal which he devoured.  I did not take photos, but it was all brown wood and coziness.  Our meal was at 6:10 which is early and thus the place was not crowded but not empty with just the right amount of subdued friendly noise.  For us country mice it was the perfect city experience.

I get anxious at these trips to the city because it is months between times using my Uber app and I had to update my credit card with them as well.  The app is much more friendly and intuitive than it used to be.  We drove to my daughter's house and decided to take a taxi to the restaurant from my daughter's house which cost $27 and the taxi was late picking us up!  We Ubered to the theater about 4 blocks up after the meal.  We Ubered to my daughter's home after the performance and that cost $17 and we only waited 5 minutes in the bitter cold at 10:30 P.M. for the ride to show!  The app asked if we were willing to share the ride and we would be picked up sooner.  With temps in the mid 20's F and a breeze, I was cold and quickly clicked yes.  We shared with a very quiet middle-aged African American woman who only offered a friendly comment when I wished her a safe ride home as we exited first.  We are only going to Uber in the future as my daughter advised.  Cheaper and faster!

As you can see above, we got there about 10 minutes early.  It is a small theater and filled rapidly.  The play we saw was The Merry Wives of Windsor.  I do like Shakespeare while hubby not so much.  This was a perfect compromise because it was set in the 1970s and absolutely hilarious.  The beatnik costumes and hairstyles and music brought back those years warmly.  The acting was superb with enough broad body comedy to keep the pace moving.  They tried to stick to the olde English with occasional 1970's terms thrown in.  Certainly shows how universal Shakespeare was and is. Reminded me I needed to do this more often as I am getting old.

We were very fortunate as there would be only a few more weeks to see plays in this theater.  There was a two-year remodeling project in the future.  I hope they keep the character of the original architecture based on the traditional theater of Shakespeare productions.  It was funded by oil baron Henry Folger and his wife and also has a world-class library attached.  The building opened in 1932.  If you are interested in the history you can go to this page.

In the next post I will talk about some shocking news I got the following day.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Waiting for the Unmasking

We are all linked together whether we like it or not.

The planet can be covered in man-made walls, but they will not make any difference because every country has different resources including the amount and types of labor and we will be forced to trade and exchange what is of value.

According to a correspondent on National Public Radio, we get most of our surgical masks from China. These are not the germicidal masks providing limited protection that you purchase in the drug store or the throw-away masks that the doctor's offices provide to protect their patients from YOUR sneezing if you are polite enough to wear them when you are ill. No. These are the tight-fitting disposable masks with two filters so that the doctor and nurse can breathe while not contaminating or getting contaminated by the germs in the operating room. Medical personnel will not operate without these masks due to lawsuits.

Most of these masks are in very limited supply in the United States now.  We get our masks from China.  China has shut down their factories.  We get most of our generic drugs from China and we also get most of the basic chemical ingredients to make such drugs elsewhere from China.  We can hope we have seen the worst of this epidemic.  (We get lots of other stuff as well, but the medical supplies are most important.)

Below is a photo of one of the American doctors that traveled with us to China as a tourist.  She has on a traveling mask with the double filter and she wore it because of the pollution in Beijing.

She and her doctor husband wore the masks during days that the pollution levels were beyond a certain point.  They checked the data on their watches each day.  Most of the rest of us did not.  One other woman had asthma and they gave her one of their masks.

The times that I saw locals wearing masks was when they went to the temples where there was lots of smoke from incense burning and smoke from the yak butter candles.  Mostly people were maskless.

China is known for shutting down its schools because of air pollution and this was bemoaned by our tourist guide who waited for the day China would have clean air regularly.  China is one of the worst polluters of the air on the planet.  Above is Tiananmen square on a fairly hazy day.  I am sure is mostly empty today.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Lost in Cathay

Dehazed and photoshopped muchly.
I have learned that the older you get and the more open you are to the differences in earth's universe and the more open you are to people who disagree with you, you realize that the globe is not all that big. We are small in this grand universe and we are closely connected in many ways. Most of us want the same things---a fair chance, honest relationships, a bit of love, and the ability to contribute to mankind in some way.  (Unfortunately, a few of us are broken beyond repair as we can see in the daily news.)

I was in China during the month of October last year (those who regularly read my blog have gotten a window into that trip already).  Therefore, I have followed the coronavirus news carefully and a few theories have come forward that the virus may have been moving through the population way back before December!  A small change in the calendar and my blog might have been written from somewhere else with much more dire news as I spent a few days in Wuhan, mostly traveling outside the city.

I fell in love with the Chinese people as they are wonderfully simple and complex.  They are really very much like us.  I worry about the people I met and those who depend on travel from other countries to fill their restaurants, fill their hotels, eat their food and buy their handicrafts.  I took many photos during my time there and I have today gone through the first three days of our trip and focused on the people to share thinking about their livelihood and health.  So come along for a quick view of Chinese outside the city. (As usual, you can click on the photos for a bit larger view.)

This is a young woman (notice the long hair) setting out fishing traps along the three gorges section of the Yangtze River.  Far from the cities and night lights.

A farm along the steep and unforgiving hillside. I cropped closer for a better look. I do not know if they live there or only work there in the day time.

There is a calm resignation about their stance.

These two men are killing time waiting for someone to rent their vehicle for the somewhat long and steep trip up the hill to the temple.  We walked, but I felt some guilt about that being the "snowflake" that I am.

Three men, two look retired, and I think one is the shop owner.  They are watching the tourists stroll up to the tall Pagoda.  I think you could get a very different quote out of each of them if you have some imagination.

Three Chinese tourists celebrating their success at reaching the top of the Pagoda.  If you can cross the bridge in three steps it means success or love.  They look just like American tourists in their joy.

Hope you have enjoyed this little vignette on the locals.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Woah...were have I been?

Hard to realize I have not posted on my blog in the past two weeks. In reality, I have had nothing to say.   !But that has not stopped me before!   My health (ear infection) seems to be improving, but I am used to improved health before a week's end and not a month's end. Part of my not posting is my depression over the State of the Union and no one wants to read about political opinions when you can get them on TV non-stop. This President has been a gold mine for cable news. I do wonder what they will hype about when he is gone. (Although he does dream about changing that Constitutional restriction for re-election like the Chinese leader did!) 

While the weather is also political, it is unusually warm here.  Days in the 50's and 60's with no snow.  It feels like northern Florida most of the time.  We do get the rare rainstorm, but it is also a little too dry for this time of year.  There have been only a few night freezes.

I realize people need good news, so a dear sweet young man I know has just received two patents for his work on cybersecurity.  He worked day and night for 5 years and he is now wealthy and it is well deserved. 

Continuing technology advances, the University of Toronto Scarborough has, for the first time, turned waste cooking oil—from the deep fryers of a local McDonald’s—into a high-resolution, biodegradable 3D printing resin.

The Pope, yes THE Pope, has given an empty Vatican palace over to the homeless.  That is something to be celebrating, certainly.  

They have discovered that putting patients in hyperbaric oxygen chambers can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's.  (Maybe Michael Jackson was smarter than we thought.)

"According to a recently published Gallup poll—the first of its kind conducted in almost two decades—Americans visited the library far more than any other cultural institution in 2019."  That bastion of learning brought in 10.5 trips a year, more than sports events and movie theaters.

So that is at least 5 things to celebrate.  Now go to my other blog for an avian laugh.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Can You Hear Me Now?

Going into the Doctor's for a follow-up. The first time today I feel better, so of course, the appointment is tomorrow when I will be back to normal. I have been very lazy watching the soap opera that disguises itself as a Senate hearing...resembling nothing I have seen in Law and Order but much like Days of Our Lives.  Us elders can see the dust crumbling beneath the foundations of our Democracy.  Others seem to think it is much ado about nothing and all "politics".

My son-in-law pointed out to me across the school gym a young mother that was wearing some slogan/protest T-shirt, perhaps Mom's against Guns.  I was not paying too much attention except that son-in-law seemed to find it "quaint" that I was like her, one of those angry protestors for many causes.  I wish I could find it quaint that he is unenlightened.

I have the premonition that there will be much violence ahead in the election year and many months after.  Our President's own lawyer testified (before he went to jail) that change would only come via revolution.

China has a tightly controlled society.  People are very well-behaved because they know the dangers of Chinese jails and the lack of fairness is not reasonable argument.  There is no freedom of the press there.  Their leader manipulated the bureaucracy so that he can be endlessly reinstated as a supreme leader.  Crime is low and hidden and corruption is how things get done.

I read an article in The New Yorker that followed the probable history of the first diagnosis of a patient with coronavirus which began in Wuhan. (They guess it had to do with illegal live bat sales.)  The writer in The New Yorker got her details from an article in a Hong Kong magazine since the investigative press is suppressed with death in mainland China.  The bottom line is that everything is so controlled under a tight authoritarian regime that even public health officials could not step out of the procedure when they saw a disaster coming or at least questioned the danger.  It took over 24 hours for the first sick man to get any help at all.

My Trump supporter acquaintance says that it is because China is a communist/socialist government and the government (some vague entity?) does not care about its citizens.  "Let them die."  I disagree, but will not argue.  Authoritarian rule under the guise of socialism, communism, democracy, ecclesiastical , monarchy or whatever form of government is dangerous when only one voice and the following voices of its sycophants can be heard.  Free speech, free press, arguing in the city hall is always a safer way for all citizens.

The photo above I probably posted before.  It was taken from our boat that anchored in Wuhan before our trip up the river.  Wuhan is a very large city. The city was all in lights because of the celebration of the 70th year of the formation of the PRC.  Keep the citizens focused on the bright lights!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Winter

I have somewhat gotten used to not hearing well out of my right ear. The pain from the infection is gone, but the swelling hangs on. I used ice packs yesterday afternoon and that reduced the swelling as I can now "pop" my ear open if I open my jaw. Walking around the house with my maw open is not too much fun, so I still muddle on hearing only the muffled sounds in the house that come from the left side. I have no dizzy or orientation issues, but it does seem odd to hear a sound coming from my left side when the sound is taking place on the right!

Now I think I understand what it is like for the hearing impaired and I admire their patience with themselves. It is easy for hubby to sneak up on me in the shuffle of his soundless socks and it is easy for me to procrastinate doing all those things I do not want to do and instead read my book and play word games on Kindle. It is an artificially enforced vacation. I am retired and no longer need vacations from my life, which is a vacation. I am lazy and use it as an excuse not to exercise or clean house or run errands. (Of course with this flu expanding, I will avoid senseless trips to anywhere.)

I do think about my earlier life when getting sick meant there were chores that still had to be done no matter how I felt, and people to care for no matter how I felt, and going to bed early was the only respite I could find. I think of my busy daughter with her three children. At least two are old enough now to cook for themselves a bit.

Above my daffodils are emerging like the idiot energizer bunnies they are. I also have small tips of tulips breaking the frozen crust of soil in the pots on my deck and of course the Lenton Roses that are weeks early. Signs of spring are everywhere. I know they are pushing the season, but so am I.

Photos were taken weeks ago before the ear infection!! Spring is impatient here.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Stuck at Home

I am stuck at home for a few days with a semi-painful ear infection. It is complicated and involves fungus and microbials...and I am unable to hear in my right ear.  Which has frustrated hubby who is trying to make a point sometimes.  I am trying to be lovingly patient with my life but I hate these wasted days. I am staying away from crowds due to influenza fears even though I got my flu shot long before my trip in October. (Missing the dinosaur event with my grands.)

Thus I have pulled up old hard drives and gone through files and wondered why I save so much meaningless stuff archived! This photo below was taken in my back yard a few years ago. One is the original (the second below) and the other is photoshopped (extravagantly and easily noticed by a photo expert). To really appreciate you have to click on the photo.  This is what I am doing on this drippy day.

Spirits in my woods?